Did CNN put Cuomo on the Toobin track?

UPDATE, 12/5/21: As Jazz points out this morning, the prediction below turned out to be mistaken. CNN did fire Chris Cuomo, but only after supposedly finding an allegation of sexual harassment from “another network” in the middle of their investigation during Cuomo’s suspension. That appears to have been public since at least September, however. Maybe CNN needs to watch the news, or maybe Jeff Zucker needed to make up a new pretext for firing Cuomo after keeping him around through any number of journalistic-ethics violations. YMMV.

Original post follows …

Color me entirely unimpressed with CNN’s “indefinite suspension” of Chris Cuomo late in the news cycle yesterday. That came more than 24 hours after a report from the New York AG proved he’d lied about his involvement in his brother Andrew’s PR campaign against his accusers, months after that got exposed in the first place. It came also after revelations that Chris Cuomo got privileged access to then-rare NY-state medical support as favors from his brother, which the CNN anchor never disclosed on air while promoting Andrew for weeks.

All of that has been on the record since at least March of this year. The serial violations of basic journalistic ethics — as well as CNN’s complicity in them — have been so obvious that even Stephen Colbert raised them in August. The text messages published by Letitia James’ office further proved that Cuomo lied about the extent of his involvement in Andrew’s attempt to smear his accusers.

Nevertheless, CNN put Cuomo on its version of double secret probation because they claim that executives want to “investigate” the matter:

“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the spokesperson continued. “But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.”

“However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” the spokesperson added. “As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

Worth noting: James’ report came out several hours before Monday’s prime-time, and CNN still put Chris on the air anyway. Only after CNN started taking heat from other outlets and watchdogs such as Poynter did they suddenly find a need to impose a suspension.

As Jim Geraghty asked last night, what is there to investigate?

Kyle Smith scoffs at the time out on the naughty bench for Cuomo:

Wow, indefinite suspension? Kinda sounds like CNN finally fired Chris Cuomo. But not really. All that happened is Cuomo gets to take the holiday season off. Sweet deal! We know this because CNN’s own media reporters are already musing about when he’s coming back. From Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy’s media newsletter, released hours after the grave announcement of the fake punishment:

The CNN spokesman who shared the suspension decision did not get into any further details, but it’s possible that Cuomo — who frequently ranks as the highest-rated host on the network — will remain on the bench for weeks.

So Chris Cuomo gets to take a little break for the holiday season. Nice. How is this punishment? Answer: It isn’t! It’s merely a CNN PR ploy to get people to stop talking about Cuomo for “weeks” (wow, a whole 14 days!) until the coast is clear. As a colleague puts it: If they didn’t fire Jeffrey Toobin, they aren’t going to fire Chris Cuomo.

Toobin’s violation was personal and disgusting, but Cuomo’s goes to the core of trust in reporting. Not only did Cuomo accept gifts from his brother in exchange for on-air promotion, he lied both publicly and apparently to CNN executives about his involvement in Andrew’s smear campaign. How can CNN expect Cuomo to have any credibility on air — or the organization as a whole as long as they put Cuomo on television?

Apparently they don’t care about credibility — if they did, they would have fired Cuomo back in March. CNN execs from Jeffrey Zucker on down aren’t concerned about journalism or ethics, clearly. They’re not “investigating” Cuomo — they’re just putting him on the Toobin track. Zucker and his team decided months ago that they would just ride out the scandal and eventually pretend it never happened, and that Cuomo’s corrupt presence would have no impact on the overall perception of their product.

Maybe they’re right, too. Who knows? But it at least puts an end to CNN’s apple-banana pretensions once and for all. It’s now obvious that the organization is rotten to the core, and CNN should remember that one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.